My I’s: Isms, Ignorance, Interrelationships, and Insights
The phrase “An unexamined life is not worth living” is a truism that became a guide for Charlie Schmidtke’s journey of self-reflection. His book is a unique mashup of memoir combined with philosophical reflections on life, cast within the topics of race, religion, gender, generations, and grief.
In an exploration that spans decades, he tells of encounters with Jim Crow, journeys through religious transformation, shifts from a male dominant lifestyle to a more balanced view of gender roles, wanders through generations, confronts profound tragedies, deaths, and grief, and encounters those who have blessed his life in ordinary as well as extraordinary ways. He looks specifically at the isms he himself has confronted, along with the social context that has pervaded his experiences. This highly personal narrative reflects how his attitude, language, and behavior have changed and become more inclusive, tolerant, and accepting. His stories range from light-hearted to serious and from amusing to introspective.
By reflecting upon the “I’s” of his life-isms, ignorance, interrelationships, and insights-the author encourages readers to examine the critically important human dynamics related to prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, stereotyping, and interpersonal relationships. He invites readers to reflect on their own stereotypes and behaviors and asks them to adopt the overarching theme of the book: love and respect for themselves and others.